HOUSTON – April 27, 2018 – Spring ISD’s Curriculum and Instruction team was brainstorming ideas for Women’s History Month when they landed on using former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton’s book “She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World” as the basis for their theme: She Persisted. At the time, they didn’t know that decision would lead to a personal, congratulatory video to the contest winners from the author.
The She Persisted Essay and Project Contest for kindergarten through 12th-graders was well underway, when Lauren Topek, Spring ISD chief of curriculum, instruction and assessments, made a trip to the Blue Willow Bookshop – her two young daughters in tow – to see Clinton at her book signing event and get a few more copies of the book.
“When I stepped up to get the books signed, and while her staffers were taking a photo of us with my cell phone, I took the opportunity to quickly tell her what our district was doing with her book,” Topek said. “I asked if we could get a video of her recognizing our winners, and she agreed.”
Working with Clinton’s staffers, Topek said the video arrived just in time to be shown at the April Board of Trustees meeting after spotlighting the grand prize winners of each level: Zharaya Walker of Anderson Elementary, Isabel Rincon of Roberson Middle and Jasmin Dominguez of Carl Wunsche Sr. High School.
Dominguez was sitting in the audience surrounded by family members when she heard the video announcement, which she said was a total surprise.
“At first I didn’t believe that it was really her, that she actually said my name, I was like, I feel really important,” Dominguez said. “My mom doesn’t speak English, so we had to tell her afterward, but my aunt was really surprised. She said, ‘Jasmin, that was Hillary Clinton’s daughter.’”
A collaborative effort involving the Literacy, Social Studies and Advanced Academics teams, the contest demonstrated how literacy is applied across curriculums and included not only written essays but art projects as well.
Participants had to choose a woman in history who accomplished something amazing in spite of difficulties. Entries were judged at the campus level first, then those winners advanced to the district competition where the grand prize winners were selected.
Dominguez’ winning entry was a portrait of Pearl G. Francis – the mother of Wunsche’s custodian – who had sacrificed in order to bring her children to this country for a better life.